View Full Version : 100 years of Flight

11th Nov 2003, 01:49
Could any one tell me if there are any events/flyins planed for the 17th of Dec as I wish to mark the event by aviating and would actualy like somewhere to go.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
11th Nov 2003, 02:40
I shall get the aeroplane out, fly a symbolic 120 feet, and taxi in.

I can do that even if it's peeing down with a 50 ft cloud base, just as long as the aeroplane is OK. But if the weather is nice, after that symbolic 'hop' I will go flying.


Grandad Biggles
11th Nov 2003, 02:43
Shuttleworth are hoping to fly the Boxkite and a Tiger or the Maggie
Due to fly at 10-35 and the airfield will be open from 0900.
PPR required

Sir George Cayley
11th Nov 2003, 06:32
Wasn't the first flight at 10.35am EST?

Therefore don't we need to be hopping around 15.35UTC ?

Sir George Cayley

The air is a navigable ocean that laps at everyones door

11th Nov 2003, 06:53
No, no.

What we should do as -ah- good Europeans, is say in a bad French accent some months later: "Mon dieu! We are az nozzing!" And then get cracking on Concord(e). Ah. Opps. Or some neat Depredessi... That fast French racer thingy from 1911 ish.

Personally a visit to Old Warden, the most historicly commemorative place in the UK would be fave (I know there's places which have 'more history' but none have as much that WORKS - thanks Chris Morris & Co.

Or Brooklands. Thanks Mr Roe; shyest pioneer award, and damn fine gent too.

Alternatively, why not go to the Science museum, stare reverently at the one and only deHavilland (sorry, BAe, sorry tins-that-go-bang-Co) 'Flyer' in the shed at the top and blow a good old British rasberry at the Langley Smithsonian crowd.

See, lots to do. Now as soon as I've untied these white sleeves...


Windy Militant
11th Nov 2003, 20:42
I think that I've posted this before perhaps a kindly Mod could sticky it for me!

100 years of flight web site (http://www.raes.org.uk/public2003/)

12th Nov 2003, 00:09

The RAF Museum is opening 'milestones of flight' on the 18th December. Why? Because they are having a jamboree for suits on the 17th. Public museum or private club?

To cap it all they have publicised that they are OPEN on the 17th on the RaES website. I wonder how many of the public are going to be royally 'annoyed' by turning up on the day, and not being able to get in...


I DO hope I'm wrong.


Iron City
14th Nov 2003, 22:28
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is opening the Udvar Hazy Center at IAD on 12/15. Web site (www.nasm.si.edu/museum/udvarhazy/vtour.cfm) has a couple live web cams. Camera 2 (south view) has a Concorde (in Air France colors unfortunately, no rasberries or other overripe fruit please)

15th Nov 2003, 00:17
I'm logged in on the AOPA site to get airbourne but if you're "oop North" they are having a Fly-In at Elvington. All the details on Flyer forum. Did I say that ?

17th Nov 2003, 11:14
What is December 17, and why is that date used as the Centenary of man's first powered flight? :confused: :confused:

The Centenary of the first powered flight occurred on March 31, 2002 to mark man's first flight by Richard Pearse at Waitohi, New Zealand, on March 31, 1902.

17th Nov 2003, 16:28

The AOPa are organising a 100yr commemoration here:-AOPA 100 (http://www.aopa.co.uk/)

17th Nov 2003, 17:55

Nice post. Well Said.

How's Bobby ?

Mr G.

17th Nov 2003, 20:08
I hate to piss on your parade chaps but Pearce himself has gone on record as saying his work didnt begin until 1904 and he did not fly.

17th Nov 2003, 20:56
...and, whoever is right, as we missed the party then, we'll just have to celebrate this time around...

"Any Excuse for a Pint" Treadders

19th Nov 2003, 09:37
Mr G. Bobby is fine, hale and hearty in Sydney. Seems to improve with age, although his health wasn't good a while back.

He's just back from a Spitfire Association reunion at Darwin where I think the wiley old codgers re won the Pacific air war and planned new methods of smuggling booze in Spitfires. (Bobby Gibbes, Australia's second highest scoring war ace was Court marshalled and busted from Group Captain to Squadron Leader for smuggling booze "for personal cunsumption" in an RAAF Spitfire. With Bobby's demonstrated thirst, I'm surprised the Spit actually got airborne.)

There can't be too many World War II air aces left. Bobby may be one of the last. He's certainly one of the best with a far too interesting and full life behind him.

And if the definition of "powered flight" is to have an "apparatus" where lift exceed drag and the "apparatus" defies gravity under it's own power, Pearce beat the Wrights! :E

And only a Kiwi could think of something like this contraption:

Richard Pearse's first patented invention, dating from 1902, was an ingenious new style of bicycle, bamboo-framed with a vertical-drive pedal action, rod-and-rack gearing system, back-pedal rim-brakes and integral tyre pumps.

The mind boggles................ :}

20th Nov 2003, 18:09
I think there was something about being 'controlable' that won the Wrights the palm... Generally given by most, but there is a series in the A magazine which covers all the other claimants - including Mr P, and Albert Santos-Dumont this month. South America declined to join in the 'pan American celebration' because they claimed AS-D was ahead of the Wrights (which he wasn't, but why let truth stand in for patriotism!)

21st Nov 2003, 02:51
If Pearce himself is on record as saying that he never flew (and personally I have no doubt that he didn't) why do so many twats claim that he did?

21st Nov 2003, 13:18
Not at all.
THe evidence that he flew is exactly the same as the Wright's flights, though no picture was taken.
People saw him fly and paced out the distances, etc.
People saw him take off from level ground, fly hundreds of yards, then land again.
In May 1903 he flew about 900 yards, mostly out of ground effect and including two turns. If that's not sustained controlled flight I don't know what is.
He had no idea how to fly a plane - there was obviously no books on how to do so back then - So he would have said that it was hard to control.
How was your first flying lesson? Keep the Cessna perfectly under control? I didn't. I certainly couldn't have landed it by myself without hours oif practice, in a plane that's designed to have benign handling.

22nd Nov 2003, 16:46
If Pearce himself admitted that he never flew, how can anyone else claim that he did? That's what I don't understand.

1st Dec 2003, 03:56
I'm still waiting for a satisfactory answer, all you Pearce fans. Or perhaps there isn't one?

1st Dec 2003, 08:23
Yes, the answer is that you've already made up your mind and will not listen to anything else.

If a 900 yard flight that includes two turns and mostly out of ground effect, was made by a totally untrained pilot that didn't crash at the end of it, would that be an uncontrolled flight or a controlled one?

Background Noise
2nd Dec 2003, 01:59
To get back to the topic, I think Duxford plans free admission that day.

2nd Dec 2003, 05:50
Hang on 18-wheeler, you may say what you like, but Pearce himself said he never flew. That's my point! He said he didn't fly, so how can you (or anyone else) say that he did?

3rd Dec 2003, 07:09
Pigasus27. Regardless of what Pearce may have said, there numerous references and compelling evidence that he achieved actual powered, (reasonably) controlled, flight before the Wright brothers. 18-Wheeler's web site has a very informative, complete and well researched article on Pearce.

I assume 18-Wheeler won't object to me quoting the following from his web site:

"11-5-1903. This, in my opinion was Man's first real flight. Pearse took off along the side of a river, the Opihi River (in New Zealand), turned left to fly over the 30' tall river bank, then turned right to fly parallel to the middle of the river, above the wing's ground effect. After flying nearly 1,000 yards, his engine began to overheat and lost power, thus forcing a landing way down the dry-ish riverbed. One of the locals, Arthur Tozer, was crossing the river at the time in a horse-drawn carriage, and was rather surprised to have Pearse fly right over his head!"

The myth that the Wrights were the first to achieve powered flight may have it's origins in the terms of an agreement made around 1944, under which the Wright Flyer aircraft was returned from the UK to the Smithsonian Institute.

4th Dec 2003, 04:46
"Regardless of what Pearce may have said!!" Now you're just getting silly! He himself said that he didn't do it - you say that he did. Were you there? Pearce was. He said that he didn't fly, and that's good enough for me (and I suspect everyone else except Torres and 18-wheeler).

4th Dec 2003, 05:19
Some great moments mentioned above which I would agree with, but for me personally, the most inspiring moments were as a young boy, listening to my 'uncle' Ralph telling stories of his exploits in WWII where he had his face burnt off trying to shoot down a doodlebug, and his work on Concorde.

He epitomised the spirit of flight which drove great men to achieve great things and was the biggest hero I ever met.

4th Dec 2003, 08:19
Pigasus, one can convince some of the people, some of the time, but not all the people, all the time. And I respect your right to an opinion...... :O

I would be very interested to see your evidence (or arguement, subjective or not) that either: (a) Pearce failed to achieve powered flight; or (b) the Wright brothers flight pre dated Pearce's flight.

Forgetting 18-wheelers excellent web site, how about the Cornwell University (http://www.cornwallgb.com/cornwall_england_airplane.html) in the UK which states categorically:

Richard Pearce

Richard Pearce designed, built and flew the world's first airplane before the Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk.

Or Australia's Monash University (http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/pearse1.html) which states:

Popular history has it that the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk [in the United States] were the first to fly [a heavier-than-air craft], but this is not true! The first flight was by a twenty-five year old New Zealander, Richard Pearse on March 31, 1902. Pearse, (1877 - 1953), is not generally known for this wonderful feat as [until recently?] there has been very little publicity about it. In fact the first formal mention of his achievement was some seven years later in the newspapers of 1909.

Presumably, reputable Universities would not make those statements without first verifying their veracity?

Obviously I wasn't there, but there appears to be significant evidence to support the claim that Pearce's flight pre dated the Wrights. Conversely, you may be correct and Cornwall University, Monash University, 18-wheeler and I may be wrong.

As I mentioned above, one needs to research the terms of the 1944 agreement under which the Wright Flyer was returned from the UK to the USA after the Second World War. It's been some time since I read the article on the agreement, but I seem to recall a condition was that the Smithsonian Institute were to promote the Wrights flight as man's first powered flight.

4th Dec 2003, 08:36
In the style of Pigasus27, I'm still waiting for an answer for, "If a 900 yard flight that includes two turns and mostly out of ground effect, was made by a totally untrained pilot that didn't crash at the end of it, would that be an uncontrolled flight or a controlled one?"

People's memories can be odd at times, remember the president of the US, "I DID NOT HAVE S.E.X. WITH THAT WOMAN."
Of course not.

4th Dec 2003, 11:01
In two letters, published in 1915 and 1928, Richard Pearse writes of February or March 1904 as the time when he set out to solve the problem of aerial navigation. He also states very clearly and explicitly that he did never achieved proper flight and did not beat the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Against these rather clear statements - and the fact there is absolutely no contemporary evidence in favour of a 1903 flight attempt (less still an actual flight), we have some eyewitness accounts collected several decades after the supposed event. I have worked as a professional oral historian for over 15 years and feel qualifued to state that if there is one thing that the human mind is incapable of doing, it is storing and recalling accurate date information over a long period of time.

So there are 2 ways we can take this.

18 Wheeler is asking us to believe that on two separate occasions the main protagonist has written bare faced lies about his own activities; that probably for the first time in human history we have an individual denying having achieved a notable positive "first" in human progress; and that when interviewed decades later, some eyewitnesses to his aviation experiments have precisely recalled the date on which they occurred.

Or we could believe that Mr Pearse was telling the truth about what he did; and cast reasonable doubt on the accuracy and impartiality of those interviewed decades later.

Make up your own mind folks :hmm:

4th Dec 2003, 13:45
He was not satisfied with his results, hence he did not make the claim nor was he interested in doing so.
You can twist it any way you like, but a flight like he did well before the Wrights is unarguably sustained controlled flight. It took the Wrights over a year to match anything like what he did.
As for people recalling things years later, it was in the local newspaper a day or so later. Somewhat more recently than 'years'.
He was also noted as saying when he first saw news of the Wright brother's flight that he had achieved the task before them, but was not really interested in who was first.
It was only many year later he was reported as changing his mind. Compared to the aeroplanes of the mid 20's, his Monoplane must have seemed near-imossible to fly.
Never the less, it did, and for quite a distance many times over a couple of years.

4th Dec 2003, 16:50
There's a series in the 'A' magazine by noted pre-w.w.1 aviation historian Phillip Jarrett. In this he's looked at the various claimants to the 'first flight'. Pearce and Santos Dumont are two highly thought of contenders who achieved much, but, according to Jarrett, were not first - except for the requirements of later historians, who, in many cases, are trying to prove different for nationalistic reasons. I'm afraid Pearce's case does not convince me - though I think he was certainly a brave, and commendable pioneer

However, there are two key points that are being missed above:
1: The Wright's aircraft (not them, not the flight, the aircraft) was controllable
2: They publicised (later on, sure) and published and patented and are recognised as two of the leading scientific developers of practical flight. As you've said Pearce supports their efforts.
3: The dispute with Samuel Langley - where Curtiss and the Smithsonian lied, forged and cheated is why the Flyer was in Britain, not the Smithsonian untill '48, and shows how great academic instuitutions can pervert history. (this is a matter of record - not my opinion btw) is why the Wrights were sucked into litigation. It's an example of the 'Wrights not first = news' vs 'Wrights did it = not news' problem that we face this year from media trying to get 'an angle' on an old story.
Hope this helps!
18wheeler & torries - I remain unconvinced, but I'm glad we can review the facts to decide eh? Bluntly, there are few Universities who I would accredit with the ability to get aviation history right. - Cranfield etc. Monash (my parents' Uni btw) and Cornwell are not among them. Sorry.

4th Dec 2003, 17:20
The claims to Richard pearse's fame are mostly based on Geoffrey Rodliffe's books about him. In the article mentioned above it is pointed out that a lot of the research behind these books is questionable or perhaps even flawed. As pointed out by Fernytickles witness evidence from those days is a very thin source to base all these claims on.

However fun these bi-monthly Pearse/Wright wars are, the original reason for this topic was to question whether any events were laid on for the 17th. I think this question could've been answered without dragging in this whole discussion that is now going on. Those willing to discuss the Pearse/Wright issue, please find your own topic! (I might even join you there.)

4th Dec 2003, 21:15
As we close in on 17th December I think we should, and must, avoid letting the question of Richard Pearse arise again. It has been discussed many times over the past months and it is time to let it drop.

Why? Because the fact is that the Wright Brothers have been accredited with the distinction of making the first flight. That it what history records and this forum is no position to change history.

So please continue the discussion about man's first flight and not about who else may have done it.

100 years is a long time and we should celebrate man's first flight as it is declared by the history books.


I have control
5th Dec 2003, 02:48
18 Wheeler, please supply a reference for the newspaper that reported Pearse flying in April of 1903.

5th Dec 2003, 19:08
No CP, I will not let it drop because it's just plain wrong.
The name of the paper is in a refererence book I have at home in Aus, I am in Dubai at the moment and so do not have access to it.

5th Dec 2003, 20:04
Well, whichever we've missed the opportunity to celebrate 100 years of the Richard Pearse event, so as aviation afficionados we'll just have to celebrate 100 years of the Wrights... Beer anybody?

PS: we've missed this year's Christmas as there are those who will argue that JC was born in September - or was it August - excellent say I, tear down the decos, strike Slade from the gramophone player...

Iron City
5th Dec 2003, 22:46
Hear Hear Treaders....Let's have a Fosters for all the antipodians and let the Pearse/Wright argument go to it's own thread and debate as desired.

This thread is about any special events going on for the 100th of The Brothers.

Saw the new Smithsonian Air and Space annex last weekend. Looks like a large concrete Quonset hut... blech!! But who cares, it's what's inside that counts. Opening day is 12/15.

7th Dec 2003, 15:44
"Saw the new Smithsonian Air and Space annex last weekend"

We did too, WoW! Can't wait to see inside it good and proppa' :D

12th Dec 2003, 11:00
Just bringing this back to the top, just in case 18 Wheeler has forgotten he/she owes us a reference when he/she gets home.

12th Dec 2003, 11:12
From memory - not sure - I think it was the Waitohi Times.

I have control
12th Dec 2003, 21:22
The world anxiously awaits the posting of a full reference, 18 Wheeler, as you seem to have stumbled on a crucial piece of evidence, previously unknown to aviation historians.

12th Dec 2003, 22:40
Surely what matters more than who was first is whose activities did more to change the world as we know it. It isn't disputed that the Wrights flew at Kitty Hawk on 17/12/1903 (or at least I dont think it is) and then went on to demonstrate sustained, controlled flight to a large number of people. Pearse, Preston Watson, Whitehead etc may well have been first but what influence did they actually have on the world - absolutely none to my mind since it was long after their supposed flights that people started claiming the first flight for them and by then the work of the Wrights had been developed by others to create the foundations for the aviation industry we have today.

We should be celebrating the first significant flight of a powered aircraft. Or with my glider pilot's hat on we should be remembering with sorrow the day the Wrights gave up a promising career in gliding and invented the glider tug:-)


I have control
13th Dec 2003, 01:38
grow45, I am in 100% agreement with you except I give no credence to the notion that a powered flight of any sort was made any of the people you mention.

The most interesting of all the "flew before the Wrights" claims from around the world (I have delved as far as I can into 9 of them) is Karl Jatho in the late summer & early fall of 1903. It seems reasonably certain that he achieved a series of short (but increasingly long) hops, the longest of which was about 60 meters. The question of how much control he had or whether this constitutes a sustained powered flight is one that we can talk about all day.

But, back to grow45's point, even if he did fly it had basically zero effect on the course of human history - whereas we can look at every airplane that flies today and see the direct influence of the Wright Brothers in it. If anyone gave the gift of flight to the world, it was the Wrights.